CDC Orders Military Germ Lab Closure Citing Safety Concerns

by Helen Gonzales
DC Orders Military Germ Lab Closure Citing Safety Concerns

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ordered to shutter a leading military research facility. The USAMRIID (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases) is a military research laboratory where scientists study some of the fatal bacteria on Earth. During an inspection in June, the CDC has found the laboratory does not match established safety standards. Reportedly, the fed agency has issued an order to cease-and-desist the Fort Detrick biodefense lab. The CDC has decided to close the lab citing concerns that it does not have adequate systems to sanitize waste-water.

The germ lab had leaks in its wastewater purification system. While Caree Vander Linden, the labs representative, said none of the holes were present outside the facility. For now, the notice has halted all the ongoing clinical trials in the USAMRIID lab. Fortunately, there are no signs of the pathogens outside the germ lab. According to the CDC, no bacteria have paced their way out of the laboratory despite it’s below standards. Thus research is on hold, and it may take months to re-start. Even the lab might get an order for permanent closure. As a result of shutter down by the CDC, the germ lab has lost its registration with the Federal Select Agent Program. It is an agency which grants permission for the analysis and ownership of disease-causing materials. Now it will have to improve its remediation processes.

It seems like there are some problems with the new methods used to sterilize wastewater. For many years, the germ lab had used a steam-water treatment plant to decontaminate wastewater. But, in 2018, a storm flooded and destroyed that sterilization plant. Thus Fort Detrick lab adopted a new chemical-based decontamination system. But the federal inspectors did not find the new methodology proficient in cleaning wastewater. The CDC also revealed concerns with the inadequate periodic re-training of employees who handle the harmful bacteria. As per the agency, it is essential to keep training staff regularly. Although it is not the first time, the lab has faced a temporary closure citing handling of dangerous pathogens.

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